Lil Nas X made headlines Sunday night when he appeared on the BET Awards. During a performance of his single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name) he turned to a backup dancer and began making out with him on live television.
Does the scenario sound slightly familiar? It should, because it’s reminiscent of the controversy stirred when Adam Lambert appeared on the American Music Awards in November 2009.
Adam’s AMA’s appearance happened only a few months after competing and finishing as runner-up on American Idol season 8. The singer’s appearance was promotion for the release of his post American Idol debut album, For Your Entertainment. That’s back when folks still purchased CDs!
After Adam’s AMA’s performance, all hell broke loose
When Adam hit the stage that fateful night, he improvised a bit. He kissed his lead guitarist, simulated oral sex and made grabby motions at a female singer’s crotch area. All hell broke out afterward, for a performance that seems pretty tame these days.
But ABC, the network that aired the event, insisted it was Adam’s improvising that prompted them to ban him from the network. A slot on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve among other opportunities were immediately withdrawn.
Adam calls Lil Nas X’s performance “hot…he’s really giving it to us”
The Queen frontman shared his thoughts on Lil Nas X’s performance with Billboard. “I thought it was hot,” he said. “I mean, he’s really giving it to us. I think he is definitely like the gay pop star that is 2021 — he’s bold, he’s controversial, he’s pushing boundaries. That’s what we want our pop stars to do. It’s just taken this long to have it be a gay one.”
Adam notes that he was “pulled off of ABC for a little while,” after the AMAs adding, “They were freaked out, they had Christian parent groups writing in, the censors were freaked out. The thing I found so funny was like, ‘Censors? It’s a kiss! When was that indecent?'”
CBS invited Adam on their morning show…and then censored the kiss!
He recalls ABC cancelling his GMA appearance scheduled for the next morning. Already in New York City, he ended up performing on the CBS morning show. But when the network aired the kiss, they censored the it with a blur!
“They showed a clip, trying to draw a comparison to Madonna kissing Britney and Christina at the VMAs a couple years before that. So they showed a clip of that moment, and then right afterward, they cut to clip of my performance the night before of me kissing a guy onstage, and they had censored our mouths,” he says. “I just remember thinking that was the biggest slap in the face — it’s like, that proved my point! It’s so crazy to me that this double standard was so blatant and obvious, where two women kissing was not indecent, but two men kissing was.”
Adam was unapologetic, but early in his career, he had to “toe the line a bit”
While Adam never apologized for the performance, he had to “toe the line a bit, because of the times we were in and the situation I was in with my career.”
Billboard notes that while Lil Nas X garnered some negative feedback from the typical homophobes, there were also a ton of people who supported him. Needless to say, BET will not be banning the rapper from their network anytime soon. It’s also worth noting that folks who get mad a gays expressing themselves on TV were way angrier at the song’s music video, where Lil Nas X travels to hell and has sex with the devil.
Adam admits that i Lil Nas X’s performance had taken place just a couple of years after his AMAs controversy, “I probably would’ve been jealous.” But now, all Adam can feel is pride at the rappers ascent. “We are in a very divided, polarized time, but I feel we are on the positive side of that polarity,” he says. “There is so much good will for someone like him, and I’m just happy to be able to have the perspective to appreciate it.”